King of the Green Desert
This is a moment I dreamed about for twenty-four years. I knew what it would look like before it ever happened. A beautiful black-maned lion of the Kalahari caught by the dying sun amidst the green splendour of summer. The only thing I would have added, in my dreams of course, is a butterfly; one of the many that flutter across the aching beauty of the desert.
There is something special about the light in the kalahari, indeed out west in general. It's clear and crystalline, like viewing a scene through a diamond. The sun is so buttery that I sometimes have to question my eyes and there is no sky that is deeper, bluer and more beautiful.
Photographing a wild lion, that deigns to lie in the sun (they most often move to shade) in the fleeting greeness of summer during the kalahari evening is a moment to hold close, forever.
Photographed with a Canon 7D mark ii crop sensor camera and 400mm F2.8 L IS ii telephoto lens. The sun is off to the left of the shot and the lion is lying in the grass of the Auob river bed near the Houmed waterole. He's looking over at the rest of the pride which is still lying in the shade cast by a tall camel thorn tree on the western edge of the valley.
Surprisingly, he is unaware of a large male leopard that is 200m behind him, also lying in shade to avoid the heat of the late afternoon sun.
I took the image with a short telephoto at just 400mm. Using a narrow aperture of just F3.2 and a shorter focal length allowed the capture of a wider scene and still allowed a soft background. Wider scenes and soft backgrounds are reminiscent of the bygone era of medium format portrait photography and it is a 'look' that I really enjoy in wildlife photography. The glorious Kalahari light meant that I could use ISO100 and and shutter speed of 1/640 ensuring the best possible image quality. The image was processed in Adobe Lightroom.